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Thursday, December 04, 2003
A few addendums to my Strokes post:

- Somehow I neglected to mention the fact that at the end of the song, Julian growls, "This is it!" Which, given the title of their first album, is hard to ignore. Many people have seen Room on Fire as a bafflingly direct continuation of Is This It (always an asking-for-it title given the context in which it arrived), and with this line Julian seems to be either acknowledging or making fun of these claims: the first one, well, we weren't sure, but this one, this is it: this is the one we've been promising. It's wonderfully cheeky and one of the few times the Strokes acknowledge the massive amount of criticism LP1 received. It's good that they ignore the subject, I suppose, but at the same time it would be nice to see a rock band take more than a line (Kurt's "Teenage angst has paid off well," Jack White's "Far from this opera forevermore...") to recognize or respond to the criticism that had been directed their way. Hip-hop folks seem all too eager, and while I'll admit that their critic-bashing gets repetitive and whiningly unspecific, it could be fun if done right. Engage with the culture, rock folks!

- Odd that such an analog-aspiring album is so Pro Tools-identified--why didn't they do it all White Stripes style in a reel-to-reel studio? I think it's good that they didn't, in a way--that confusion of the modern with the retro is part of their appeal--but it's still a bit odd.

- Odd too that, according to my info, they wrote most of these songs in the studio; they seem oddly well thought-out for that. Of course, it also explains the Pro Tools a lot more--you can hear in quite a few songs the way in which they could have just built up all the parts and then simply muted the ones they didn't want in there at the time. You should probably remember that the guru was in the studio with them the whole time and probably suggested not a few of the solos and leads--which, I gotta say, are really, really good on this album.

- I ignored--unintentionally, I swear--the prime example of using the technique I describe the Strokes adopting, i.e. not imitating the imitators but going back to the source. Why I didn't think of the wide world of Pet Sounds fetishists, I'll never know, but let's throw that in the mix now. You see a decent number of Pitchfork reviews talking about some sun-pop band "sounding like they haven't listened to anything after 1970," and that's true as far as it goes, since they're mainly trying to imitate a songwriting, production and arrangement style from the late 60's. Of course, they didn't really have any imitators to imitate--who would be Pet Sounds' pre-90's descendents, XTC? Elvis Costello? Spector's production work?--but still, the problem there is that they really don't acknowledge the modern in the way the Strokes do. You're just not going to make a better record than Pet Sounds while trying to sound like it, so let's just accept this and move on to the wide world of punk, new wave, grunge, etc., etc. Throw something else in there, boys.